Office Transformations

imgresA half-century ago, the so-called “office of the future” was envisioned as a totally paperless environment.

Today, the concept is the subject of continual discussion as design-minded entrepreneurs introduce cutting-edge concepts that, shortly after being introduced, often evolve into something even more creative.

And while it’s always entertaining to imagine a workplace filled with personable robots making quick work of mundane tasks about, the office of the future is already moving in directions that are more down-to-earth.

Seems that even designers and architects are concentrating more on concepts like collaboration, integration and communication. And in tailoring workspaces to the needs of employees as well as to the peculiarities of various company cultures. What might work for, say, a clean-energy startup may not wind up helping the folks who manage the sale and delivery of food items. Rather than simply shove everyone into the same kind of working environment, regardless of company culture, designers are now playing to those aspects that make a company unique.

There are, however, some shared design ideas that transcend company culture.

The number one issue that influences office design everywhere these days is transparency. Formality just doesn’t seem to cut it these days, for all except the most staid of businesses. Glass doors and walls are in, as are barrier-free spaces where underlings work elbow to elbow with head honchos. The benefit? Open workspaces tend to keep minds open, and also exude a ring of authenticity, which helps employees feel trusted and valued, resulting in greater productivity.

Company offices are also becoming more hospitable, whether by adding spaces such as a café or areas set aside for employee rest and relaxation. Some companies are even combining the reception area with a café space. Incoming clients can enjoy a beverage while they observe the workings of the office.

And companies are also stressing sustainability and flexibility. Workstations sometimes aren’t assigned to any one person. Smaller office spaces – the kind where only a couple of people have room to sit across a table from each other – allow workers to closely collaborate without bothering their colleagues.

All of which is meant to project a company image of valuing people first and foremost.

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